There is no doubt that UKIP have had a dreadful five months since June 23rd. With Diane James resigning as their leader in a short space of time and Nigel Farage returning as leader (again), the party have struggled to establish a post-#Brexit identity. But with the announcement that Paul Nuttall won the leadership contest today, a new question arises: who is the party over for? UKIP? Or Labour?
UKIP's apparent opportunities
The advent of Brexit should have brought about the death of the Eurosceptic party, but it is becoming unclear what sort of deal the #Government will strike with the European Union. Articles have been written suggesting they will pursue a 'hard' Brexit and others arguing that the Prime Minister might have to compromise on an interim deal. It has now emerged that the Government is facing a legal battle over membership of the Single Market. The June 23rd vote may have been won by Leave campaigners, but the desperate battles Remoaners are fighting to disrupt Brexit only add fuel to the UKIP fire, as does the possibility that the Government may have to accept temporary European Economic Area (EEA) membership.
Those leading the ant-Brexit battle cry include unpopular figures like Tony Blair. The stance of a former Labour prime minister who helped create the situation we face today will anger Labour voters in the North, further alienating them from their natural party. And with a lack of clarity from the Conservatives over the triggering of Article 50, these disillusioned voters have no other option but to support UKIP, for now.
Nuttall and the threat he poses
So what makes Nuttall such a threat to Labour? The new leader intends to park his tanks firmly on their lawns. His working class background enables him to connect with northern voters to a greater extent than Jeremy Corbyn who, as we all know, shows no shame in dismissing the concerns of the people he claims to care most about with his pro-immigration and anti-Brexit views (though we all know that he probably voted to leave the EU anyway). He also seems to have absorbed the concerns of the working class to a greater extent than his left-wing rivals.
Labour were particularly keen to paint an image of Nuttall as pro-NHS privatisation with their video today, reminding viewers of his comments two years ago regarding our health service. Nonetheless, with such an opportunity on their plate, it would be an error of great proportions to advocate this policy.
The Shadow Cabinet still fail to comprehend the scale of the challenge they face in relation to clawing back support from their traditional voters. Diane Abbott suggested that she believes it would be a mistake to portray themselves as 'UKIP-lite' in regards to immigration. Keir Starmer has failed to master his brief as his proposals for dealing with Brexit would result in no changes to the UK's status in the EU. We all know that UKIP came second in many Labour heartlands during the 2015 General Election. And with their poll ratings so poor at the moment and their economic policies distrusted among pollsters, Labour are (literally) being squeezed left, right and centre. Let's not forget that the SNP maintain their grip over Scotland as we speak.
Of course, as Harold Wilson rightly said, a week is a long time in #Politics and unless anything dramatic happens before 2020, we are still over three years away from a general election. But whilst the centre-left party are led by the hapless Corbyn and his elitist Shadow Cabinet, the party may well be over for them by then. Depending on the type of deal the Government can reach with the EU and how well Nuttall plays his cards when capitalising on Corbyn's demise, the party may well not be over for UKIP, yet.